5000 SOLDIERS TO POLICE POLLS
By Emmanuel Akli
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Peter Augustine Blay, has asked Ghanaians not to be afraid about the eruption of violence during the December polls, and that the army was on high alert to deal with any troublemakers during the elections.
According to him, about 5,000 soldiers would be deployed across the length and breadth of the country, and also secure the country’s borders to ensure peaceful elections.
Augustine Blay was speaking in a meeting with President John Dramani Mahama, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, during his maiden visit to Burma Camp in Accra yesterday.
The recent political skirmishes in the neighbouring Ivory Coast, which resulted in the slaughtering of human beings like fowls, has put the fear of God in most Ghanaians, as political tensions rise in the run-up to the December elections.
But, the Chief of Defence Staff assured the President and the nation that Ghana’s borders would be safe during and after the elections. “With particular reference to the forthcoming elections, we are preparing very closely with the police and other security services to provide the required security before and after the elections,” he added.
President John Mahama, on his part, asked the army to remain committed to the cause of the state. The President noted that though the government had done its best to re-equip the army, a lot still remained to be done.
“They say to whom much is given much is expected so I know that the Ghana Armed Forces have a track record of delivering. So I have no doubt that with the state of equipment you have, you’ll be able to carry out the constitutional mandate that you have been given to protect the territorial integrity of Ghana.
“We are entering a critical period in our democratic and constitutional governance, which is a four-year cycle of elections, and normally, the Armed Forces are called upon to help the police in carrying out civilian security duties.
“I know the Armed Forces will play their part, and visiting you as the Commander in Chief, give you the moral encouragement to carry out your duties as impartially as possible,” President Mahama said.
The President also used the occasion to commission a fleet of vehicles and other equipment to augment the work of the military.
|In a related development, the Ghana News Agency reports that the National Commission on Small Arms and Light weapons (NACSA) has intensified campaign on public awareness and education against the proliferation and misuse of small arms and armed violence in all ten regions in Ghana.
This sensitisation exercise has already been carried out in Odododiodio in Accra, Bekwai and Asawase in the Ashanti Region, Yendi and Chereponi in the Northern Region.
The Commission will visit Akwatia and Antiwa in the Eastern Region, and finally, end with Ashaiman and Agbogbloshie, all in the Greater Accra Region.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Mr. Jones Applerh, announced this during a campaign launch on Small Arms and Light Weapons at Yendi, in the Yendi Municipality of the Northern Region.
Mr. Applerh indicated that the Small Arms Commission was working to contribute towards conflict prevention during the December 2012 elections, in collaboration with communities working together for peace.
According to the Executive Secretary, without doubt, small arms remain the key instruments used by disgruntled individuals and group of persons to visit untold hardships and mayhem on the human race, leading to loss of lives and property every day.
He said in 1991, in Burundi 300,000 people were killed, and at least one million displaced, with which researchers have put the total economic cost of the conflict at US$5.7 billion. Mr. Applerh said Liberia’s conflict, between 1989 and 2003, cost an estimated 250,000 lives, and forced more than one million people to abandon their homes and livelihoods.
He added that just like Burundi, Liberia’s legacy of conflict affected their socio-economic development, and today, their country’s level of health care is among the worst in the world.
He noted that these countries were all very peaceful like Ghana, except that they failed to recognise what the proliferation of guns could do to their society.
Mr. Applerh stated that a whole Commission had been established to deal with guns proliferation, with more policemen being recruited over the years, with its attendant provision of logistics.
He said a Border Patrol Unit had been put in place by the Ghana Immigration Service for the borders, and an amended section of the Criminal code to make illicit possession of guns a first degree felony, instead of a misdemeanor.
He said what that meant was that anyone caught with weapons without a license could be jailed for life.
The Yendi Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Issah Zakaria, expressed his gratitude and commendation on behalf of the chiefs and people of Dagbon, for the choice of Yendi as one of the venues for the programme, and for the support and training given to artisans, particularly blacksmiths, to build their capacity in farm implement fabrication, instead of small arms.
The theme for the launch of the campaign is “Gun Violence, a threat to Peace Security and Development.”
Mr. Zakaria noted that the people of Dagbon had the bitter experience of violence – chieftaincy conflict in 2001, which brought untold hardship, insecurity and retarded development.
He reminded Ghanaians that the fight against the production, sale and the use of small arms was not the business of only the security agencies, but the concerted efforts from all and sundry, especially, the GPRTU, blacksmiths, religious leaders, governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=48830